Sunday, 17 January 2010

Freedom of Information Request to UK Border Agency for Intercompany Transfers Visas

Recently one of my contacts used a Freedom of Information request to UK Border Agency to find out how many non-EEA workers companies plan to bring in over the next year.

This relates to my ongoing reports on IT contractors and other professional contractors (such as Accountants) whose jobs are being unfairly taken in the UK by lower paid foreign contractors from outside of the EEA. As the Bracknell Blog articles reported here, here and here.

Britain is celebrated as having one of the most versatile and effective IT sectors in the world. But this sector, like so many others in recent times is being eroded at an alarming rate in the name of a cheaper 'that will do' approach by many large IT employers. These figures below over all professions although these visa applications mostly affect the IT sector.

Just to explain the tier 2 category is the points based system for employer sponsored work visas. Within tier 2 there are the following sub-categories:

a) General – either for shortage skills or after a resident labour market test (RMLT) i.e. advertise the job to UK workers first

b) ICT – for intra company transfers (no job advertising required)

c) Sports Person

d) Minister of Religion

The sponsoring organisations use the computer based “Sponsorship Management System” (SMS).

They request a certain number of Certificates of Sponsorship for use during the following year. They can request more during the year. Once the anniversary is up then the current allocation vanishes and they need to request more for the next year. The renewals process can be read here.

When they need to get someone a tier 2 visa, then they assign a CoS to them on the SMS system. The visa applicant must then apply for the visa using the CoS (which is just a unique number)

Total number of sponsors who have requested CoS for Tier 2 GEN category (Points system) is 3,702 and they have asked to bring in 71,665 workers. Of this 2,597 companies were granted 52,649 so far, which is a percentage of 73% of total requests. Most of the remaining 27% are just pending approval and will probably be approved,

Total number of sponsors who have requested CoS for Tier 2 ICT category (Intercompany Transfers) is 1,704 and they have asked to bring in 62,589 workers. Of this 1,196 companies were granted 45,924 so far, which is a percentage of 73% of total requests. Most of the remaining 27% are just pending approval and will probably be approved.

The points based system started at the end of November 2008 and companies could start requesting certificates of sponsorship for their second year on 5th October 2009. The stats were generated on 26th November (so less than half of sponsors have requested visa's at that point). Sponsors can request more if they run out. However it is a rough indication of how many people employers think they will bring in between December 2009 and November 2010.

For the 2nd year of the points system, companies had asked for 134,254 CoS for tier 2 general and ICT visas, and so far been granted 98,573 CoS between 5-oct-09 and 26-nov-09 (with 25,740 pending approval).

As you can see companies have been approved to bring in almost 100,000 people to work in the UK and many will be for jobs normally conducted by UK staff. Some of these staff will of course be needed but is this system really working for the good of our economy. Many do not pay tax in the UK, and others are also unfairly treated and have little protection under UK employment law.

The UKBA require that the migrant workers be paid the “going rate” for the job. The going rate is usually the national lower quartile salary for the job. This means it is often more than a third less than a similar UK worker would be paid.

This area does need more control so that UK employees and non-EEA migrant workers are treated fairly.

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